What makes a good book shop? What makes City Books so special?
A good general bookshop will have knowledgeable and approachable staff; a range of books which has depth, breadth and is tailored to suit the local population and an atmosphere which is conducive to browsing. Excellent service is essential. We try to make each visit a pleasurable experience, and the customers give us positive feedback – it’s the inspiration to keep going.
Why are independent bookshops so important?
They provide a rich source of diversity on the high street. The books will have been carefully chosen, with an emphasis on quality and the unusual. If you’re looking for the over-hyped and commonplace, then the chains will oblige. Most independents will be able to obtain virtually any book in print, often with next day delivery.
You’ve put on some great events – who have been your favourites?
Lots of famous names have appeared, but we have Will Self to thank for getting things off the ground. Our favourite event is often the most recent, which was David Mitchell. He is exceptionally talented, and involved the audience in perfecting a piece from his next novel. Great fun, which is the point really, isn’t it? We’ll be back at The Old Market in June.
How do you feel about eBooks and Kindles?
They have certainly widened readership, but you just can’t curl up with one in the same way. A physical book works perfectly. It has served its purpose for hundreds of years and will continue to do so. It can be a thing of great beauty and it doesn’t need power.
Do people still read books in the same volume that they did when you started 25 years ago?
Yes they do, certainly in our experience. Last year was our busiest ever.
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